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Blog // Connect Michigan

Journey’s End: Our Final Stops in Malaysia

By CMI Staff

Connect Michigan’s work to develop comprehensive technology action plans in communities throughout the state; efforts to raise the awareness for and adoption of technology among small businesses; and their unique broadband research has garnered international interest. In the summer of 2013, Connect Michigan State Program Manager Eric Frederick will travel to South Korea, Japan, China, and Malaysia to share Michigan’s lessons and stories for broadband and technology expansion with government officials, academics, and many others. This blog series provides highlights from his trip and Connect Michigan’s efforts to put the state at the forefront of the digital economy.

While we have been busy working to facilitate the expansion of broadband and technology access, adoption, and use, it is easy to forget that other states, and countries, have similar issues they are working to address. On Monday, August 12th, I met with representatives of the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) of Malaysia, an entity tasked with the development of the country’s Multimedia Super Corridor and implementation of Digital Malaysia.

 

Eric Frederick, Connect Michigan State Program Manager with Sharon Leong Quee Foon, Digital Malaysia Senior Manager with the Multimedia Development Corporation of Malaysia in front of the Prime Minister’s offices in Putrajaya, Malaysia.

 

Digital Malaysia is the country’s National Digital Economy Initiative, a plan similar to the United States National Broadband Plan. Among the many projects currently underway to implement Digital Malaysia, the MDeC is looking to enable e-payment services among micro, small, and medium sized enterprises, develop on-demand, customized online education, and organize digital microsourcing income for low-income populations. Through these efforts, the Digital Malaysia plan strives to increase the increase the digital economy’s share of GDP to 17% by 2020 and improve the standard of living for all Malaysians by increasing digital income.

I met with the MDeC in the city of Cyberjaya, a new, planned community that began developing in 1997. Cyberjaya is the heart of the Multimedia Super Corridor and strives to be the Silicon Valley of Malaysia. Over the last sixteen years, Cyberjaya has developed into a magnet for international information and communications technology, multimedia, and research and development firms. From data centers to office space and production facilities, and a daytime population of nearly 50,000, the city has become a hub for the knowledge-based, digital economy.

While Cyberjaya is a community planned around and for technology, Malaysia has many rural communities that face the same issues as many of those in Michigan. Low density, physical terrain, awareness and digital literacy, and cost of access are common issues between Michigan and Malaysia. The MDeC was interested to hear of the Connected Community Engagement Program and the grassroots work of Connect Michigan to expand broadband and technology access, adoption, and use in our state, and the ways in which the program could benefit Malaysians.

From mega-events and the geographical impact of technology, to finding unexpected similarities between a Southeast Asian developing society and the Mitten State, my journey through Asia was an experience and lesson in technological commonalities. While I hope sharing Michigan’s experience with ICT was beneficial to those I met, I know the lessons and research I gained while abroad while better inform the ways in which Michigan communities can continue to expand technology access, adoption, and use.

Thank you to everyone who followed our journey by following this blog series and who joined the conversation on Facebook and Twitter. It was a tremendous learning experience and I’m looking forward to sharing even more when I return home!

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